Category Archives: loyalty

Love’s Gonna Getcha’ (A History of Violence)

There are a million different ways to say “I love you”. As a male, even if whispered from the softest of lips from the one who holds us in the highest regards, the premise still seems unfathomable; it makes us uneasy. It doesn’t always come in the form of physical contact; it’s frequently delivered in subtle methods such as, “Put on your seatbelt.”; “Watch your step.”; “Did you eat?” or “Get some rest.” So as a man, imagine how uncomfortable it is when one of your brethren conveys that sentiment in any form. The slightest expression of emotion, the least bit of vulnerability is met with resistance or disdain. “Alright!” or “Stop tripping” are phrases that you might typically hear in response to adulation. An often time, a quick change of subject is warranted to re-regulate the testosterone loss by any displays of affection. “The male has paid a heavy price for his masculine ‘privilege’ and power.” According to Dr. William S. Pollack in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, “Although boys have the same emotional potential as girls, their emotional range is soon limited to a menu of three (3) related feelings: rage, triumph, and lust.” Anything else and they risk being seen as a sissy, says Dr. Pollack. Society demands that men display “machismo” at every turn; and culturally, as a black male there are but two (2) reactions that can be made when faced with conflict; fight or flight; there is no in-between.

Long before deciphering the concepts of the Willie Lynch letter – The Making of a Slave (in one case pitting black male against black male), the publication of Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, or understanding the dynamics of the prison industrial complex, there was October 15, 1997. The phrase “black-on-black crime” was first brought to the mainstream media in the early 1970s, which included Ebony magazine using the phrase in a November 1973 editorial titled, “What Can Be Done?” As an individual growing up in that era, as I matured, it was a normal part of my existence. On that overcast October morning, myself and two (2) of my dear friends were involved in a violent altercation. When I reflect upon the run-in, it was incomprehensible. The echo of gunfire reverberated off the surrounding structures as a number of bullets pierced the skin of my fallen comrade. We had all scattered in different directions after he attempted to remove the weapon the assailant pointed at his head away from his face; seeking to deprive him of the currency and jewelry he had in his possession. As the tires squealed from the vehicle that was left idling in the adjacent parking lot, and fled northbound on the major roadway making their escape, I rushed over to my companion to discover what damage had been inflicted upon him. There were no tribal screams or acts of rage, flailing arms or legs as depicted in cinema; just a feeling of disbelief and remorse. I had seen this coming; spotted the play as it was taking place, and had done nothing to prevent it. I would like to think my skepticism about the events even taking place would relieve me of any guilt I may have had, but honestly we were slipping; I was slipping. We took the fact that we were in our neighborhood for granted and thought our stature in the community made us immune to incidents such as this. That was a lesson I’ve never forgotten.

The paramedics quickly arrived on the scene and our friend was airlifted to a hospital that managed those types of injuries. I had been out of college almost four (4) years and was three (3) years into my career in law enforcement when the confrontation transpired. So as the police conducted their investigation, numbered cones marked shell casings and yellow tape intertwined with trees and branches, questions needed to be answered. Admittedly, neither I nor many of my immediate friends were cut from a fabric of cutthroats and killers. Like most of Middle America during that period, we enjoyed mimicking the lyrics of our favorite gangsta rap artists and lived vicariously through movie characters like Doughboy from Boys N The Hood or O-Dog from Menace II Society. But after witnessing what had transpired, I believe we were all willing to take penitentiary chances in an attempt to get retribution for the possible loss of our homeboy. A visit to the hospital determined that he would recover and the only thing left was to “get our man/men”. After the laughter subsided, the saline solution was properly filled and administered, bed pan checked and breathing apparatuses were in place, there was a sense of angst in the air; a collective tension that justified action needed to be taken. Traveling to the police station once removing the bullets from my hood after leaving the hospital, I contemplated what measures needed to be taken to satisfy my desire to avenge the earlier proceedings. Was I willing to go to jail and throw away my career for the sake of attaining “street justice” and to not look “green” (soft) for failing to retaliate for an occurrence for which I was involved? It was a no-brainer. I contacted Azreal AKA Samael (the Angel of Death) who was willing to help undertake the task of delivering vengeance. And similar to Dough, Lil’ Chris and Monster, but without the convertible ‘64 Impala, we rode through the streets of then Unincorporated Miami-Dade County looking for our transgressors.

In retrospect, I am glad we never found the culprits that dreary, fall evening. There was a case of mistaken identity and misinformation. It is amazing how a series of events can cause a chain reaction which could plummet an individual into the pits of purgatory. I still have the deposition that reads, “State of Florida v. (insert name)”. The charges were Robbery, Gun/Deadly Weapon 1st Degree Murder/Premeditated and Robbery Gun/Deadly Weapon. The funny thing is we, myself in particular, have had plenty of opportunities to have our revenge; if death were our intent. It is common for most people not to recognize individuals that they have casual to little contact with. Perhaps either of them could not identify us; maybe they did not care and thought we were not going to do anything; just some clean cut rabble rousers living their lives and not causing trouble. On one remote Sunday afternoon years later, my friends and I were all together, ironically at the scene of the crime by the basketball court. The primary suspect in question was in our view, less than one hundred (100) feet away; none the wiser to who we were and our possible intent. I spoke with the individual who nearly had their life taken by this person; identified the individual as the perpetrator of the offense and asked him what he wanted to do. Any answering would have been acceptable while awaiting his reply. He had lived through that unpleasant experience; had to endure the pain and heal both physically and emotionally. If he would have said, “Let’s duct tape that shit and put his ass in the trunk”, I would have gone along and help commit the dastardly deed. Being raised in a broken home or lack of formal education would not be the justification for my decision making; as I enjoyed the benefits of being raised in a two (2) parent home and being an academic scholar. Anything that would have help make him whole again, although wrong and knowing the ramifications, I would have prayed to have had the courage to undertake the task, and would have done so because of my love and loyalty to him. I would not have asked for anything in return because in my mind, that’s what you’re supposed to do as a friend; be all in. With adrenaline rapidly coursing through my veins, I reluctantly awaited his response with anticipation. “Nah…!! I’m good!” We never asked for the reasoning behind his answer, just a retort of, “You sure?” And from that point, the subject was never broached again until the writing of this piece. The entire incident has been lost to the annals time; only raised when expanding the mythology of the individual who was summoned to help swing his scythe as the Grim Reaper.

The phrase “black-on-black crime” makes sense only if you understand our propensity to commit crimes against people of our own race as inherently different from the way other racial groups commit crimes. There is no difference; crime is crime. In our case, look at how many lives a continued cycle of violence would have damaged. We may not have lived or been free from incarceration to have careers, be a presence in our children lives, create generational wealth for our families, or be mentors and educators. That is what is lost in the equation of violence amongst our own. If I get into an altercation with someone and as a result kill them, then essentially there are two (2) or more people no longer apart of society; unless it’s determined I committed the action in self-defense, there is a strong likelihood that I will be incarcerated for an extended period of time. As males, without our presence and the ability to reproduce, there would not be children. If children were had prior to the incident, there is no fatherly guidance. Without a male figure present, there is no family dynamic or structure. Upon release from a correctional facility, there is now an economic toll that has to be paid; the inability to get public housing, food stamps, student loans; one’s ability to succeed is hindered. In whichever case, there would have been either a choir singing or commissary bringing. At the time of the robbery, neither I nor any of my immediate friends (seven of us) had children; collectively we now have seven (7). I cannot speak for any of them, but his decision to say no definitely saved my life. In my twenties, I would have thrown it all away to get the respect from my peers by retaliating for the incident; to show my loyalty and prove myself as gangsta as any tattooed, grill wearing so-called “real nigga”; never thinking about having to retain an attorney to fight for my freedom or how any of us leaving the block (by death or incarceration) will allow another soldier to fill our shoes. If jailed, perhaps the continuous changing of the months on the calendar would have provided a sense of regret. For those armchair quarterbacking saying, “It couldn’t have been me!” it is easy to utter foolish rhetoric until placed in that life altering position. The prospect of taking another’s life weighs heavily on the human psyche. Who wants to send “kites” from cell to cell as a form of communication or use mirrors as an instrument for social interaction; or have family and loved ones mourn a loss clad in black attire? I am eternally grateful for the opportunities I have had to live and see my friend recover and move past that moment in time. I have never inquired if there were any psychological scars as a result of being shot; I am sure he would not tell me the truth if asked. On many occasions I have told the harbinger of bereavement how appreciative I am for him always being there when I have appealed for his services; it was not until I reached this state of consciousness that I realized how valuable my friend’s decision was to my current existence. The thoughts of our possible response play out like a nightmare in my subconscious and often times haunts my existence. Love comes in any many different fashions. Who would have ever thought the word “No” would be so reinvigorating. Thanks for making that decision King; for that, I love you.

Note: I have spoken to the victim involved in this incident prior to me sharing this story, and he said if he had to make that decision again, he would do so a thousand times. That in itself shows you that the cycle can be broken and people can rebuild themselves when tragedy befalls them. He is a better man than me; I pray I could be that forgiving. “‪‎We Are The Change!” I’m gone! (b)‬

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Burden Behind the Badge

Imagine being awakened by the body’s internal alarm clock and prior to putting together a group of collective thoughts, your heart plummets to the depths of its soul. Peering at the reflection in the mirror while firmly gripping your toothbrush unhappy and emotionally ill-prepared for the challenges you were forced to undertake on a daily basis. After clothing yourself, eating or drinking some semblance of nutrition and enduring traffic to reach your destination, you arrive at your location only to feel the pit in your stomach grow deeper with each advancing step toward the building’s entrance. For many of us, that’s a feeling we’ve grown accustomed to on a daily basis. Instead of satisfying our appetite for independence and entrepreneurship, we jump onto life’s conveyor belt and run at a frenetic pace in an attempt to keep up with the world’s constant changes. Realizing if we were to ever teeter off balance, slow our speed or stop completely without an alternative, we stand to lose everything we’ve worked so hard to build. So try envisioning the battle one must undergo when they’ve sworn an oath to “serve and protect” in the interest of public safety when they’ve reached a point where that desire no longer drives them. Where underneath the tactical gear, Hi-Tech boots and agency issued uniform dwells a person uninterested in being trapped in the confines of what the “shield” symbolizes. This was the case for former police officer Amos Mac, Jr. A crusader on the side of “right” and what’s just; a martyr for having those same principles and wanting to exhibit them to the public at large. In an occupation where secrecy and upholding the “code” is paramount and having upstanding moral values is often times frowned upon.

As an African-American in today’s society, the desire to be a police officer is far down on the list of occupations one wants to join in the workforce. Aside from being labeled a “snitch”, “5-0” or the “police” when around your peers, there are many other pursuits that appear more lucrative and pleasing to eye. The images of police officers abusing their authority are visible on every television set and social media site around the country. So as early as adolescence, many children’s aspirations are endeavors that require little to no education and don’t come with the stigma of being labeled a “Narc”. Why become a doctor, dentist, scientist, police officer or engineer, when those professions aren’t seen as any sort of accomplishment or aren’t visible in the mainstream. It’s much easier to become a model, video vixen, athlete, or drug dealer. In that world, you get exposure, flash and the opportunity to make what appears to be easy money. However, what isn’t discussed are the consequences of making those career choices and how not having a formal education will hinder one from progressing; leaving the pursuer underemployed if those endeavors fail. Mac, a Black male, was no different. He never thought that during his formative years he’d be a police officer. It wasn’t until his interaction with a Community Resource Officer at a local middle school changed his perception of the field. In Amos’ own words he explained that the “brother” (an African-American officer) was cool and encouraged him to join the force. He saw similarities with the officer and felt that if he joined an agency, he’d be able to make a difference. In his mind he’d utilize the resources available to him, and through his actions and diligence cultivate a relationship that had long been severed between the force and community. After careful thought, he decided to join and submitted an application. Upon being accepted, completing the rigors of the academy and officially being sworn in, he entered an arena where he could now see the disparities taking place in the neighborhoods he policed. Individuals became numbers; quotas had to be met; the community he had hoped to protect and uplift often times shunned him. With every traffic stop came fear of the unknown; the arrival to every call, be it a domestic disturbance or burglary, came a sense of insecurity. These inhibitions weren’t because he was frightened of the circumstances; they came from a state of how he’d react if he was threatened or if imminent dangers were to arise.

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As citizens, we become apprehensive the moment we hear the sirens blare and see the illumination of red and blue lights flashing behind a vehicle we occupy. Many officers relish in the fact that they can make your palms sweat by their mere presence in your rearview mirror. We grip the steering wheel tighter, nervously adjust our seat belts and assume the correct posture until our fears are placed at ease once the civil servant bolts in another direction. Our heartbeat steadies and our angst subsides once the perceived danger has passed. How can individuals who are thought to provide safety and comfort leave many of the populous shaken and uneasy with each encounter? Mac wanted to be the officer seen on the cover of brochures distributed at Job Fairs and Career Days displaying community activism as the photographer captured the moment under a manufactured title of “Public Outreach.” The bond he had desired to forge never materialized and became lost in a vacuum of politics and misgivings. And after almost four (4) years of service with a law enforcement agency in the State of North Carolina, Mac decided that his passions were best suited elsewhere and composed a literary piece entitled “Imprisoned In Blue”. Using his experiences in the field as a backdrop, within the manuscript is a collection of creative expressions uniquely assembled to describe his time on the force. From the onset, Mac admits you onto a rollercoaster of emotions; where with each ebb and flow the reader is engulfed into a magnitude of sensational highs and heart wrenching lows. At its apex you have a piece called “Impact”, where he describes his interaction with a seventeen (17) year old, their conversation, and how impactful his words were several years later after a chance reunion revealed that the young man had matured and righted his situation. It plummets at times and reveals the depths of Mac’s ambiance in a poem titled “The Price”, where he explains that subliminally he believed his honor and integrity were frequently questioned despite swearing his allegiance to principles that often had him feeling as if at any moment he could be handcuffed and placed into the rear of a squad car. The momentum quickens to a high speed and the reader experiences jerking turns with verses named “Thug” and “Suspect’s Cry”, where in the former, the word, both identified in the media and embedded in popular culture, is depicted in the same vein as the derogatory term which has been used to identify Blacks since the days of slavery and is the new code phrase uttered to identify the actions of a person of color; the latter an introspection from a suspect providing an account from his standpoint about the hardships he’s faced and being ensnared within the boundaries of civilization. At times, mid flow, it comes to a screeching halt with pieces like “Traitor” where Mac questions himself and the thoughts of being used as an instrument to further the agenda to disenfranchise Blacks in the role of an overseer; a Benedict Arnold to the people of his race. The work is a composition of all his thoughts and feelings, narrated piece by piece; a visual transcript of his experiences summarized for the reader’s enjoyment.

Though given a manual with countless rules, regulations, laws and statutes, Mac insists that being a police officer is an occupation that can only be learned by performing the tasks that come with wearing the armor associated with it. Experience is the best teacher, something that is lost when watching your favorite crime drama or reality television show. In a matter of fifty-two (52) minutes, a crime is committed, investigation conducted, suspect apprehended and verdict rendered all in a fashion that will have you believe policing is easy. Mac illustrates that it’s often a thankless job. One in which “discretion is the better part of valor” and the sole objective is to make it home safely after the shift is completed. Once the shift sergeant dismisses the officers from roll call, every interaction can have far reaching ramifications for the decision maker and the individual encountered. The difference between a physical altercation, a trip to the county jail, the receipt of a traffic citation or a friendly discussion is based on maturity, intelligence and officer’s prudence. The manner in which everyone involved conducts themselves determines any escalation of action on the part of the officer. Nowadays, Mac is secure in his new position with Parks & Recreation within the area he resides. No longer obligated to decipher coded jargon broadcasted over a police frequency, he now focuses his enthusiasm on mentoring the youth and establishing programs that would prove to enhance their abilities as they prepare for the perils of adulthood. His work, Imprisoned In Blue, lends voice to those that both carry the burden of wearing the badge and those whose voices yearn to be heard while enforcing a system, that at its core, appears to be broken. When one is willing to trade in their livelihood for the sanity of doing what’s virtuous, armchair activism isn’t acceptable. “We Are The Change!” I’m gone! (b)

To purchase your copy of Imprisoned In Blue by Amos Mac, Jr, please visit www.MacVisionz.com or follow Amos Mac, Jr’s social media outlets; Facebook: AmosMacJr, Twitter: @amosmacjr, @Instagram: @amosmacjr.

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D-Fense (clap, clap) D-Fense (clap, clap)

“What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love
No not just for some but for everyone

Lord we don’t need another mountain
There are mountains and hillsides
Enough to climb
There are oceans and rivers
Enough to cross. enough to last
‘Till the end of time” – Diana Ross “What The World Needs Now Is Love”

There aren’t too many occasions where you can turn to social media and not find a post that does not quote something with positive affirmation. Whether the message focuses on remaining diligent in the quest for greatness or striving to enlighten others, there are those amongst us who try to give off a positive aura of caring for their fellow man and spreading the wealth of abundance. When the message is delivered by your favorite celebrity, pastor, or star icon, the words are met like a scripture; liked, quoted, commented and retweeted thousands of times without a second thought. It’s as if we need the assurance of others to allow us have a particular opinion as to how to feel when certain subjects are broached. Once they’ve approved, then surely we can follow suit because a person of that elevated status wouldn’t lead me astray.

“Did you know that your feelings show
You thought your love was locked up inside
But when your senses start to overload
Love is something you should never hide

You’ve got to believe in love
It’s a feeling that’s next to none
Can’t stop until we are one
With the power of love

Tell everyone to try
I promise you’ll reach the sky
One thing that we can’t deny
Is the power of love” – Luther Vandross “Power Of Love / Love Power”

 
When the subject of “love” is brought up, it’s as if the conversation is taboo. People appear openly afraid to express those emotions in the general public. Around friends, men would rather appear before a firing squad as opposed to declaring that phrase in the presence of their peers.  However, at funerals, those same men will use and exceed their two (2) minute time frame championing their fallen comrade and stating that “we” should voice these feelings because “life’s too short” and “tomorrow isn’t promised.” During courtship, because the relationship is new, the euphoria of expressing one’s feelings reach new heights. We need that affirmation from each other to determine if the bond is real and felt mutually. However, once the expectations are met and the feelings satisfied, we become complacent and all the acts that had us feeling that way no longer apply. The love remains but those feelings of ecstasy fade. Perhaps that’s the reason why so many people stray in their relationships, as they continue to chase the initial high of being happy in those moments.  People must understand that love ebbs and flows; it’s never the same. Love isn’t singular to an individual, it’s the passion and devotion to “all” things. Not just an affinity for a person, but for the animals, the trees, the universe at large. That’s what love is; not Romeo & Juliet but the one that’s described in the scripture of your chosen religion.

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Hypothetically speaking, what if all the religions were brought to together and had one message. The words of the Bible & Quran; the messages delivered by Jesus,  Buddha, Muhammad & Confucius were all brought together for one specific reason. To share the power of the thing we defend ourselves against. Think of the feeling you have after a Sunday morning of worship. The message is delivered by the pastor/minister and the word that is heard by ear resonates through your soul. Upon your exit, your spirit is renewed. But after the pixie dust wears off, similar to the complacency in a relationship, we defend ourselves from expressing those feelings until called upon unless when there’s a dire situation. Any sense of vulnerability reveals a chink in the armor. We crave the feeling, yearn for the warmth it provides, yet shun from it at times; hide from its embrace and run for shelter for fear that it’ll continue to hurt us; time & time again as with incidents past.

“Are you trying to find a beginning.
Or something just to hold on to.
Always know that love will find a way.

Is it hard this life you’re living.
Does the world seem so unkind.
Don’t you worry love will find a way.

Some say we’ve lost, our way.
Some say the world has gone astray.
But if you know where you’re going.
There’s nothing you can’t do.
’cause problems will come.
And they will leave you.
The world will try to deceive you.
But the truth will always be in your soul.” – Lionel Richie “Love Will Find A Way”

 
Corinthians 13:4-8 states the following: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs… Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves… Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.”  Once we understand the concept surrounding love’s essence. We will enjoy its embrace and realize the fears of expressing it is propaganda played in our mind. Stop placing your feelings on a leash and let them roam free to enjoy life’s pleasures.  And if someone can’t or won’t accept you for the person you are after being sincere and genuine, it’s an indictment of them not you. Namaste!  “We Are The Change!” I’m gone! (b)

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Leaps and bounds

If you own a telecommunication device and are one of the several million people that occasionally log onto many of the social media websites available to the public, then you’ve more than likely had the privilege of viewing one your “friends” addressing their “haters” or sending subliminal messages to their secret admirers stating one the following: “We spend money that we do not have, on things we do not need, to impress people who do not care” and “Stop letting people who do so little for you control so much of your mind, feelings & emotions…” One of my favorites is, “There comes a time when you have to stop crossing oceans for people who wouldn’t jump puddles for you.” When you look at the quote on its surface, it speaks to the fact that as people, we tend to make sacrifices for those who wouldn’t forfeit their desires to satisfy our needs. You reread the quote several times over, replaying incidents in your mind where you felt unloved, underappreciated and/or casted aside after making concessions for others who outwardly careless about your feelings, wants or needs. Some can disregard those actions and feel like their assistance is a blessing to others. Commonly these sentiments lead to severing relationships, alienation and resentment. Even when the situation is addressed and seemingly resolved, the bond that was once shared is never the same. In your heart you know it’s over, but you cling to the wreckage of an affiliation ravaged by distain; your self-worth couldn’t withstand the waves battering against the haul of your soul.

I reflect often times on the madness that’s called friendship. How we expect loyalty from others, and demand that people pledge allegiance to an invisible oath drafted by morals that those same individuals don’t adhere to. Like you, irrational decision making was also my calling card. As an only child and through my formative years, clamoring for acceptance was a norm. I wouldn’t realize this character flaw until I too had to learn the hard way that a rock only skips no more than three times when tossed across a body of water before submerging until its eventual doom.

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“This is a gang; and I’m in it!” During my tenure in college, that was one of my favorite songs. The track was performed by Compton’s Most Wanted off the album “Music To Driveby”. The track blared through the subwoofers as I would often times travel from Tallahassee to Monticello, Florida to clear my head and spend time alone. I could relate to the song in so many facets, and it remains a staple in my iTouch. It expressed the camaraderie that a group a friends shared; getting into mischief, partying, and other foolery. I felt my group of friends, although not deemed the “coolest”, were the realist people one could ever be around. You could always be yourself and express your thoughts without repercussions. There was no “hate”, because although we all lead different lives, we were all equals despite our socioeconomic status. So when one of my friends was shot during a failed robbery attempt, there was no question in my mind what had to be done. After the initial shock, I called up an individual who was known to resolve such matters, and off we went into the Saturday night air looking for the assailants who committed such a heinous act. As we passed by possible locations where the alleged perpetrators could possibly be or reside, I began to feel the pit growing in my stomach as to what could take place as an encounter grew near. I had been here before, so the emptiness wasn’t necessarily fear. I had felt the pain of false devotion before; left in a club holding cell defending someone who never threw a punch in defense of themselves. Projectiles whizzing across landscapes and altercations at an assortment of locations all in an attempt to earn an unheralded badge of honor which held no value. And when I thought of the occasions that I was either the instigator or the defendant, there was only one that warranted my “friends” to rush to my aid. And as these thoughts penetrated the fiber of my every being, I could only think, would these same individuals be willing to throw away their careers, college degrees, families and lives if it were me? I could name two, maybe three, but not definitively all.   I won’t lie to you and say there was a Tre’ from Boyz N’ Da Hood moment where I told the driver of the vehicle to take me (us) back to where my car was located, but I came to the realization that everyone isn’t willing to do what you’d do for the sake of friendship, love and loyalty.

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And as the years have passed, the lesson increases with its importance. Throwing rocks at the “chain gang”, looking at a period of incarceration, possible death, financial hardship and loves lost, all as a result of going the extra the mile for those that wouldn’t travel two feet to accommodate you. It’s saddening in a sense that the appreciation and admiration you have for others isn’t often reciprocated. I would never tell anyone to stop being good natured and not help your fellow man (woman) in their time of need. However, be mindful that the generosity you display may not be countered in return. And in your reluctance to assist someone, if the person dependent on your kindness begins to become agitated because you’ve now had an epiphany, tell them, “Keep calm and don’t be mad when I pull a YOU on YOU!” “We Are The Change!” I’m gone! (b)

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Brain Washed – Reloaded; Still An Illusion

As I bask in the warmth of the afternoon sun; with blue skies filled with soft white decor suspended above the horizon stretched as far as the eye can see, this black man stands firmly entrenched in utter mental disarray. Shedding the skin of a past littered with lies, misinformation and propaganda, to the hope of returning to an indigenous state of simplicity and spirituality. The road less traveled they say is the most difficult. Radical thinking leaves you as an outcast. Being a part of the crowd is the norm; removing oneself from that crowd leads to ridicule and rejection. It’s safer that way; all the opinions match; a united front for those who dare question the status quo.

However, what if I told you that it wasn’t meant to be that way? That within yourself you possessed the ability to change your reality. Your mere thoughts and gestures held more power than the actions of others who took opposition. Your voice could make plants grow or whither. Your thoughts could heal your body in the physical realm and enhance your soul in the spiritual one. The foods you ate were genetically modified to change your DNA structure; chemtrails lined the skies to your detriment. Religion was a means of control and television a form of slavery. Corporations based their profits on your consumption, paid politicians to push their agenda and didn’t care about your well-being. A society where the NRA pushed for gun control during the era of the Black Panthers but now deems it unconstitutional in 2014. Where Black Leaders are silenced, jailed or killed for attempting to uplift their people. Where after over 400 years, the Willie Lynch syndrome continues to affect our culture and the exploitation of Black women on primetime telecasts is at a premium; that there are more prisons being built than educational facilities. The CIA introduced drugs to the neighborhoods of Southern California and the government bombed a community in Philadelphia. Pharmaceuticals companies have replaced street level drug dealers. Where the government has a machine to control the weather & create natural disasters (HAARP). And the endangered species are no longer housed in zoos or placed in wildlife preserves for their protection, but are hunted daily on city streets; nothing more than a newspaper or Internet article reflecting a life lost and a killer exonerated. That the version of history that we were taught in school was revised to favor the nation’s agenda while hiding its crimes. (Sigh)

If I told you all of this and more, would you believe me? Of course not! My name doesn’t carry the same cachet as an Amos Wilson; doesn’t resonate like a Cornell West, Dr. Umar Johnson or Tavis Smiley. But despite that, does it make it any less true; is the message any less real? Like having a megaphone and yelling “fire” into a crowded movie theater, some people won’t move until they feel the heat, are engulfed by the flames and suffocated by the smoke. And as humanity sits back comfortably, unsuspecting of the events taking place behind the scenes, the puppeteer strings the masses along like marionettes as we abide by their commands. The “Matrix” live & in effect. However, there will be no Neo or Morpheus to free the minds of the oppressed and enlighten souls.

“People don’t want to know the truth because it may force them to make changes that they’re uncomfortable with; changes that they aren’t willing to make. A comfort level has been established where a change in mindset won’t allow them to accept anything to alter their reality or ability to function. There’s no other truth than the one they’ve embraced. The truth destroys their desired reality, points out their shortcomings and look at themselves in a way they don’t want to acknowledge.” (#forbiddenknowledge)

“I sit alone in my four (4) cornered room staring at candles.” Not contemplating suicide, but trying to decide if passing along information to enrich the lives of so many is worth the banishment that comes with it. And that’s always the fight taking place within the soul of person tainted by the world around them…

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“Imagine being born into a dream: a mass illusion transformed over thousands of years by billions of people into what today you call reality.  The billions of people subdivided into territories they called countries, into belief systems they called religions and into groups they called races.

Countries subdivided into states, provinces and cities, which then subdivided into neighborhoods that subdivided into neighborhoods that subdivided into buildings or single-family homes.  Religions divided into conservatives and liberals sects, which then grew into more conservative and liberal branches.  Races divided themselves by all of the above, including color, tone, ethnic makeup and financial status.

Each group then teaches and defends that its way is the way and its truth is the truth, and each group creates its own reality out of what it believes.  Each group then tries to sell you on its current forms and laws, telling you that this is what is ‘right’.  Each teaches you that the closer you are to following its form, the happier, more successful and peaceful you will be.  And somewhere deep within, you know that it is your right to be happy and to be at peace.  So you buy into it, and regardless of how little sensed the illusion makes, you keep participating, for if you stop, you will be judged as an outcast, a troublemaker, a bum.

You are taught that if you stop participating in the group’s way of life, your hopes for happiness, success and peace will also end.  The group tells you that if you go against the norm, you will not find happiness, peace or success.  So you buy into the illusion the group offers, believing that there is no other way.  You carefully weave and contour the illusion into one you can live with for now.  But my friend, regardless of how you choose to weave, contour and experienced the illusion, it is still an illusion.” – James Blanchard Cisneros, “You Have Chosen to Remember: A Journey From Perception to Knowledge, Peace of Mind and Joy” “We Are The Change!”  I’m gone! (b)

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The Fallen Are Never Forgotten

It’s crazy how some memories have more lingering effects on the human psyche than others.  I can remember listening to the message on my cellphone the morning of September 7, 2005.  I had just completed my overnight shift at Target and was preparing to head home.  Tragedy had befallen the then fledgling city of Miami Gardens, Florida.  On that date, a young man by the name of Drexsel Lemard Williams, II was involved in a tragic automobile accident which would later claim his life.  As word spread concerning the loss of this influential individual’s life, a once scattered group of people from various areas came together to celebrate the “home going” of a honored and well respected personality.  Known by friends and family for his care-free nature, his willingness to give to those less fortunate and his desire to enjoy life and its blessings, his death would galvanize all the adjoining neighborhoods within the Miami Gardens area.  The funeral was held on Saturday, September 17th, at the Greater New Bethel Baptist Church; but the events preceding the ceremony held far greater value.  There was a meeting held at the local gathering spot, Scott Lake Optimist Park, where prominent members of the community came to together and decided to collect money on the family’s behalf to start a savings account for his then adolescent daughter.  The “wake” held the night prior to the funeral turned into a block party. Everyone fellowshipped well into the early morning hours, reminiscing on memories past and telling stories of lore.  The day after, a barbeque was held honoring his passing; it was then that a pact was made to come together annually to commemorate the loss of loved ones and enjoy each other’s company.

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During the subsequent years since his death, a celebration of both his and others of those whom have lost their lives throughout the years has been held annually the Sunday before the Memorial Day holiday to honor their memory.  On that occasion, in an effort to give back to the community, the Drexsel Lamard Williams Memorial Foundation (unofficial) organizes a picnic where food can be consumed, beverages can be had and children can enjoy the amenities that comes from a community that would set an example for future generations that fellowshipping, coming together for a common cause and “giving back” are the groundwork for a healthy culture.  Naturally, there are some that have been upset about the title of the event and the “supposed” failure to acknowledge an individual whom they’ve felt were deserving of recognition.  People have to place their egos aside and realize that the event is bigger than a title, t-shirt or a “shout-out” dedication spoken over blaring music.  The symbolism is a result of everyone coming together, placing their problems aside for one day for communion.  The aroma from the scent of ribs and chicken will feel the air; music will be played to accentuate a time long since past; but the joy of seeing a past crush, “dapping” or hugging a friend having not been seen in years due to life’s attrition, or merely sharing an unspoken word – laughing at the weight the starlets of the school or the former jocks’ have gained all equates to a magnificent day.

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The time has come once again (May 25, 2014) to celebrate the 9th Annual Drex Memorial Day Family Picnic. We’re asking for all participants to donate $20 for the event; but of course any monetary contribution would be greatly appreciated.  The festivities will be held at Amelia Earhart Park located at 401 East 65th Street, Hialeah, Florida.  There’s a $6.00 entry and you can find celebration going down at Pavilion #3.  If you need any additional information or want to donate (water, soda and/or ice) please contact one of the committee members Tonya Harper-Newton, Tony Hall (T-Hall) Emeritus Brandt Edwards, Jonathan Tullis (JT), Jamal Black Williams (Black) or ShanteMssweetness Newsome (all of whom are on Facebook as listed). If you’re in the South Florida area, donations can also be given to Cedrick Harris @ Madd Cutters Barber Shop located @ 19709 NW 37th Ave, Miami Gardens.  Regardless, your presence is paramount, because creating memories far exceeds everything else.

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Death is never easy to deal with.  Many of us appear to be strong; masking our feelings behind material possessions, a false sense of confidence or having a vice (be it alcohol, drugs, gambling).  In our quiet moments we’re all vulnerable and cope with matters so precious and deeply entrenched in our subconscious that we dare not share those thoughts with anyone.  You aren’t alone, and there are many others who harbor those same emotions.  As I close, I’d like to honor two (2) special individuals who were important to me; my first cousin Channing Kendrick and dear friend James Davis.  Though you have long since left this physical realm, your memories remain strong in my heart and the love is always there.  May your journeys be that of eternal happiness and pleasure.  “We Are The Change!”  I’m gone! (b)

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